Debenhams wary despite profits rise

DEBENHAMS yesterday gave an upbeat outlook for the rest of the year after topping City hopes for the first half, helped by tight cost controls and good performances in menswear and health and beauty.

Chief executive Michael Sharp said he was pleased with the outcome against a tough consumer backdrop and warm autumn weather, which hit sales of jackets and coats. He added that he was “comfortable” with analysts’ forecasts for a full-year profit of about £158 million.

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The firm reported headline pre-tax profit of £128.5m for the half year, a slight dip on £129.2m a year ago, but just ahead of market predictions. It also announced it will return £20m to shareholders over the next six months. The interim dividend was held at 1p.

Espirito Santo analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said it was a “resilient performance in volatile and difficult trading conditions”.